Each autumn, 17 species of hawks, eagles and vultures, migrate southwest over Quaker Ridge’s scenic hilltops in northern Greenwich.
The fields are one of the highest locations in town and the sweeping views are an excellent vantage point for spotting birds. On clear days in September when winds are from the North, birders may count a few thousand broad-winged hawks as they swirl in ‘kettles’ before heading South along migration routes.
In the late 1960’s, birders searched Fairfield County for the best sites where large numbers of migrating raptors could be observed. Over several years, more than a dozen sites were tested on weekends and in the end, it was determined that the Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch at Audubon Greenwich, was the best site in the area.
Ever since 1972, migrating hawks have been officially counted as they pass over Quaker Ridge (a.k.a. Hawk Watch Lawn). As part of the network of hawk watch locations nationwide, the Greenwich Audubon Society hired a full-time hawk watcher in 1985.The Official Hawk Counter staffs the site 9:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Friday, from August 20-November 20, each year.
On weekends, volunteer counters help to staff the site. Anyone is welcome to volunteer to become a counter at the Audubon’s Hawk Watch. The more eyes the better because the seasonal counts average 18,000 raptors. You don’t need to be able to identify the hawks. Greenwich Audubon simply needs eyes watching the skies! In fact, some of the best spotters are beginners that know very little about identification. Volunteers count and record the data and then, researchers can try to gauge the health of Northeastern raptor populations.
Visitors are encouraged to visit the Greenwich Audubon Center during this exciting time of year and to ask questions, talk with volunteers, and enjoy counting eagles, hawks, and falcons from Hawk Watch Lawn.
For additional detailed data about raptor sightings at Greenwich, visit www.hawkcount.org.
For more information visit http://greenwich.audubon.org. To learn more about exhibiting or the schedule, call Jeff Cordulack at 203-869-5272 x239.
About the Audubon Center at Audubon Greenwich
The Audubon Center in Greenwich opened in 1942 as the National Audubon Society’s first environmental education center in the United States on land donated by Eleanor Clovis Reese and H. Hall Clovis. The 295-acre sanctuary has approximately seven miles of trails that lead to a hardwood forest, old fields, lake, streams and vernal ponds. Reminders of the past are the stone walks, an old apple orchard and original New England homestead buildings. Audubon Greenwich’s main sanctuary is the site located at 613 Riversville Road, which is comprised of 285 acres, with 7 miles of walking trails. There you will find the Kimberlin Nature Education Center building with exhibits, staff offices and classrooms. The Center contains the Hilfiger Children’s Learning Center with hands-on nature activities and interpretive natural history exhibits, the Kiernan Hall Nature Art Gallery, a Wildlife Viewing Window and honey bee hive exhibit, a Nature Gift Store: books, binoculars, birdfeeders, gifts. The Kimberlin Center is also available for event rentals and children’s parties. Audubon Greenwich is comprised of 11 other sanctuaries totaling 686 acres of woodlands, meadows, and wetlands, and 15 additional miles of hiking trails.